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May 17, 2004

Business Alumni John Kell and Peter Eckerline Recognized by UW-Eau Claire Alumni Association

The University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire Alumni Association will present awards to six alumni and friends of the university at a special luncheon and ceremony May 22 in conjunction with the university’s spring commencement.

“To receive a UW-Eau Claire alumni award is a distinct honor,” said John Bachmeier, alumni relations director. “To date, only 153 of our 62,000 alumni have received Alumni Association awards, and just 47 individuals have been named honorary alumni.”

The university has honored its alumni through the awards program since 1961, Bachmeier said.

Brothers John, Michael and Thomas Kell will be honored for their shared commitment to UW-Eau Claire. John Kell, a 1973 UW-Eau Claire business administration graduate, will receive the President’s Award, which recognizes outstanding professional or personal achievements or service to UW-Eau Claire. He is the CEO of Kell Container Corp., Chippewa Falls, one of the nation’s largest corrugated sheet plants. He is secretary of the UW-Eau Claire Foundation board and has been a member of the board since 1996. He also serves on the university’s Football Advisory Council.

Michael and Thomas Kell will be honored with the Alumni Association’s Honorary Alumnus Award. Thomas Kell, of Chippewa Falls, is president of Kell Container, and Michael Kell, of Stone Lake, is a retired Kell officer. Michael Kell also is a past member of the UW-Eau Claire Foundation board and investment committee.

In 1997, Kell Container Corp. started the Kell Container Scholarship for Faculty/Student Collaborative Research, the premier award recognizing exceptional undergraduate student research at UW-Eau Claire. The firm also was among the first major donors to the UW-Eau Claire Foundation’s ongoing Fulfilling the Promise of Excellence campaign, with a gift to create the Kell Container Blugold Football Opportunity Endowment.

Peter Eckerline also will receive the President’s Award. Eckerline received his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in business administration from UW-Eau Claire in 1982 and 1983. He has been employed with Merrill Lynch since 1983 and is now a first vice president of investments with the firm. He heads Merrill Lynch’s Eckerline, Bencini, Boyd Group in Wayzata, Minn., the firm’s largest team, which manages more than $1 billion in clients’ assets.

Eckerline, who lives in Orono, Minn., volunteers with a number of Twin Cities organizations, including the Twin Cities Dunkers, the University of Minnesota Golden Dunkers, the Dave Thomas Wendy’s Memorial Golf Classic benefiting adoption, and Interfaith Outreach.

Eckerline and his wife, Martha, sponsor two Wisconsin Academic Excellence Scholarships each year through the UW-Eau Claire Foundation. He also has served on the UW-Eau Claire Alumni Association board of directors.

James Doucette, a 1987 UW-Eau Claire social studies education graduate, will receive the Alumni Distinguished Achievement Award, which recognizes distinguished service to the community, state or nation in a manner that brings credit upon the recipient and the university.

Doucette teaches U.S. history and law at Franklin High School in Franklin, where he has taught for 12 of his 16 years as an educator. Last October, he was one of just two Wisconsin teachers named as recipients of the 2003 Milken Family Foundation National Educator Award. The Milken awards program, dubbed the “Oscars of teaching” by Teacher Magazine, is the largest educator awards program in the United States.

Each of the 100 Milken educators nationwide receives a $25,000 award they can use any way they choose. Milken Educator Award recipients are nominated without their knowledge by a state department of public education. They are selected based on numerous criteria, including exceptional education talent as demonstrated in the classroom, outstanding accomplishment and an engaging and inspiring presence that motivates and impacts students, colleagues and the community.

Claire B. (Bennett) Lang, a 1976 UW-Eau Claire journalism graduate, also will receive the Alumni Distinguished Achievement Award. Lang is a full-time anchor with NASCAR Radio on XM Satellite Radio, based in Washington, D.C. Her daily show is beamed live coast to coast from XM’s satellite studios in Charlotte, N.C. On weekends, her work takes her on the road with the NASCAR Winston Cup Series, hosting live shows for XM from the racetracks.

Lang also is editor of Winners Magazine, the publication of The Speedway Club at Lowe’s Motor Speedway, Charlotte; does free-lance feature reporting for RACELINE, a syndicated television show about NASCAR racing, broadcast nationally and internationally; and operates Claire B. Lang & Co. Media, specializing in broadcasting, writing, reporting, consulting and public relations. She recently was named to the board of directors of the National Motorsports Press Association.

Lang began her broadcast career as a news anchor for UW-Eau Claire’s radio station, WUEC, while a student at the university. After graduation she worked as a news anchor and news director before being named director of national public relations for the Paramount theme parks. While still in her public relations position, Lang filled in as an on-air commentator on the John Boy & Billy syndicated radio show for five years and then was invited to join the show full time, thus re-entering the field of broadcasting. Lang has been active in counseling and helping young women through challenges on their path to success. She has made a lifelong commitment to open doors for women who follow her in the field of news and sports radio broadcasting.

- UW-Eau Claire News Bureau